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1969: 'One small step for man'

Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin are the founding members of one of the world's most exclusive clubs.

They were the first men ever to set foot on the Moon on 21 July 1969, and only another 10 followed them over the course of the next three-and-a-half years.

A lunar landing had been the stuff of science-fiction just a few years previously, and around the world millions of people watched the mission with mixed emotions of awe, fascination, pride and fear.

Some of you sent your memories:

Although I had only recently celebrated my fifth birthday, I have a very vivid memory of that day.

We were all glued to the television at our kitchen table.

My brothers and sister and I were gathered around our parents. I was the smallest boy, so I got the privilege of sitting on Dad's lap.

I remember, my father being very quiet and mindful of what was being described on TV.

Then when Neil Armstrong started down the ladder, I felt a tremor run through my Dad. When he made his famous speech, I felt something wet drop onto the top of my head - I turned to see profuse tears streaming from my father's eyes and rolling over his cheeks.

My father would later say, "Even serving in the war (WWII) paled in comparison." He was never more proud of being an American than on the day our flag flew on the moon.
Christopher Flournoy, USA

I was 12 years old in 1969.

Here in Australia, the Moonwalk happened at lunchtime - and we were privileged to see better pictures than the rest of the world.

That's because the TV of Neil Armstrong's first step came through the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station near Canberra. Several minutes into the Moonwalk, even better TV was also available from the larger Parkes Radio Telescope.

Australian TV audiences saw these pictures instead of those relayed via Houston (the first of which of which came from the Goldstone station, which had the very dark picture).

The Dish is a lovely light-hearted movie about the role of the Parkes Radio Telescope in western NSW - set during Apollo 11.

I loved the movie - but the story it tells is that Parkes saved the day because no other tracking station could receive the TV.

I was a little annoyed, because the movie retold history - and effectively took away Honeysuckle's big moment of glory. So I was able to find Honeysuckle's Deputy Director during Apollo 11, Mike Dinn (originally from Leeds I think), and wrote to thank him for the role his team played - even if no-one else remembered it.
Colin Mackellar, Sydney, Australia

I was lucky enough to be sitting on the control console at the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station near Canberra in Australia on the 21st July 1969 (yes it was the 21st here).

Born in NW London I emigrated to Australia in 1966 specially to take part in Apollo and manned and un-manned missions.

I worked the Console as Operations Supervisor for all the Apollo missions, then Skylab and many other manned missions - the golden years of spaceflight, in my opinion.

We had a visit from the Australian prime minister on the day - otherwise the mission was similar to many of the simulations (without all the problems :-).

No time to worry that it was a bit of 20th century history - just that we didn't make too many mistakes.

It only occurred to me later that we had supplied those first pictures to the world and that they would eventually become the most requested news clip of all time.
John Saxon, Australia

I was in Karlsruhe,Germany on a school exchange trip.

There was much excitement about the landing and I was invited to sit with the family and all of their neighbours and friends who had come round to watch the event on their television.

They kept asking me to interpret what had been said and one gentleman repeatedly asked 'Was ist LEM?'

Unfortunately, I had no idea and my German was not up to the task of answering or explaining many of their questions.

I think the overriding emotions were of awe and trepidation.

There had been speculation in the press about what the surface of the moon was like; would it be an immense, deep sea of powder,into which the astronauts would instantly vanish or so hot that it burned the astronauts? Would they ever get home again?

All of these worries tempered the excitement of seeing the event, live, on the flickering television screen. An awesome event that I will never forget.
Peter Webb, UK

I wasn't born in 1969. However, I watched a one-night recap that German TV broadcast, I think it was for the 25th anniversary.

The moon landing has not lost its fascination!

The only thing that made watching the landing a sad thing was the knowledge that the enthusiasm for space exploration seems to have mostly died.

We left Earth, our cradle, took a "small step" out onto our front porch, and then crawled back.

There's a whole universe out there to explore. It's time we add more steps and go for an interplanetary walk.
Nils Jeppe, Germany

My wife and I sat up most of the night in Scotland to watch.

My daughter was then three months old, so we put her cot in front of the TV so that ever after she could say that she had been glued to the TV when it all happened.

I've since heard that we were not the only people to do that.

Then they abandoned it all. How the mighty didn't so much fall as jump.
David Heal, Luxembourg

In California the landing occurred late in the evening, but I woke up my one-year-old daughter and held her in my arms while telling her the importance of that moment.
Urmas Kaldveer, USA

I was 32 years at the time, and having a haircut in a barbershop in Brittany, France.

The TV in front was showing the first landing, with the jerky figures moving around on the surface, with the flag sticking out.

We could not believe our eyes, and the barber slowed down noticeably as he was watching too.

We kept silent and somehow or other he got through the haircut.

But he refused to accept money for his work, and said that such an historic occasion should be remembered forever.

"So, on your way," he said, looking at the TV all the while.

So my memory is of Neil and Buzz on the moon, and of Mike Collins waiting upstairs in orbit, and of my free haircut. Not something to forget easily.
John Boos, Canada

"Man on the Moon" was the big headline in The Indian Express in the morning on 21 July 1969.

Those days we had no TV telecast in India. Late in the previous night to early morning I was listening to Voice Of America's live radio broadcast of the fist Moon landing of Neil Amstrong.

Those were the days.
T Philip Mathai, India

Just as Apollo 11 touched down on the lunar surface for the very first time, my mother was giving birth to me at that very moment!

Ever since then I have been fascinated by space travel. My parents still have a cartoon from a national paper on my birth day - it shows a newborn baby being held in the Mother's arms with the moon visable outside the window.

The caption says "For the last time, I'm not calling my son Apollo!"

Seeing as my surname is Holmes, I was very glad not to known as Apollo Holmes, which sounds like a rather naff house building company!

All in all, the 20th July 1969 was a small step for man, but a great step for me!
Rob Holmes, UK

I was seven years old, we lived in a high-rise building in San Juan Puerto Rico.


" I kept racing between the TV and the balcony and looking at the moon to see if I could see them on the moon "

JR, USA

My parents were ecstatic about the event and I understood the importance of it and was proud to be part of the spectators (my younger siblings were sleeping) so it was my parents and I.

I kept racing between the TV and the balcony and looking at the moon to see if I could see them on the moon.

My uncle was on his way to join us and when he arrived, he jokingly said to me he could see them on the moon.
JR, USA

I was a 10-year-old boy at the time and the only one of the children with much interest in what was happening.

I was glued to the television as much as possible during the entire mission.

I ran to the house from the school bus on the day of the landing. My siblings were bored but my father allowed me to continue watching because "we are watching history being made".

I really don't remember a lot more except my father getting a smile on his face and saying quietly to himself "I never thought I would live to see the day".
George Bonser, USA

I was about 21 years old at the time of the great leap for mankind, and I watched the event on the black and white television in the lounge of my college dormitory.

That night I went out and looked at the moon, which was (per my memory) full. It was very clear, and I felt I could see every pebble on its surface. I thought about how people were standing on it, and how close it seemed that night.
Daniel Brockman, USA

I remember when it came over the television that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, my father said: " They should take the word can't out of the dictinionary. If they can send a man to the moon and he can walk on it and return to Earth, there isn't anything we can't do."
Shirley Walker, USA

I was 8 years old, near Philadelphia, at Candlebrook Elementary school.

As the moon grew in size closer and closer, we all felt both the realization that the moon was graspable, and yet let down by the impact revealing how primitive our reach was - we were just throwing stones, like my dad and I had done, skipping stones on the Schuylkill River on the weekend, attempting Washington's silver dollar feat.

My cohort all believed that we might miss the big push into space, that it might all be done and over, with the moon occupied and routine before we grew up.

When the moon got to be routine in the '70s and Nixon killed the program, it was a shock much larger than the one of the Ranger impact.

I came from an aerospace family, with my dad working on Nimbus and MOL projects at GE's Valley Forge plant.

When we moved to California, my work start was at Nasa's Ames Research Center in the 1970s, working for some of the men who found how to navigate to the moon. Its never been out of the blood, still now.
William Jolitz, USA

My dad worked on the Mercury and Apollo projects. I was eight when they landed on the moon and remember watching it on TV.

My dad is a big, tall, tough guy and I remember him crying while we watched. I have a spare part from Apollo 11 that my dad kind of ended up with.
Greta, US

I was a young American teenager spending the summer of 1969 at St Mary's College in Twickenham, enjoying classes in English Drama and theatrical productions in the West End.

London celebrated the first moon Landing with happy crowds watching a large TV monitor in Trafalgar Square.

It was well after midnight when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon.

It was a beautiful evening, and even the moon was shining!

I understand the three Apollo 11 astronauts later came to London and met Queen Elizabeth.
Dennis O'Brien, USA

I remember the teacher in my final year at primary school (1967/8) saying that by the time I was an adult, a man would have landed on the moon.

Less than 18 months later I can remember my class at secondary school being allowed to watch the moon landing on TV.

It was momentous and awe inspiring for a group of 12-year-olds.
Julie, UK

I remember watching the night they landed on the moon with my twin brother and dad in Welwyn Garden City Hertfordshire.

It was a tiny television and we were really in awe.

I took a photograph of the television picture as President Nixon was superimposed onto the screen and I now have this momentous occasion as a great memory.
Lorraine Silvester, UK

Wow! I so remember our family sitting about five feet from the TV!

We were so not believing what we were seeing. We had goose bumps when we landed.I will never forget.
Daniel Placencia, USA

I was on a student tour of Europe and on this day we were in Switzerland.

We spent all day hiking up into the Alps.

When we reached the top it was evening.

We were all given lighted torches and we held them as we walked down the mountain.

We stopped in one village on the way down and a small shop has a black and white TV going.

We all gathered around to watch the walk on the moon. Black and white TV with squiggle lines.

As we continuned our journey down the mountain in the dark holding the torches, villagers came out and cheered the United States as we passed.

It felt great to be an American.
Linda Potter, USA

I was seven years old at the time.

I remember looking at the photos in the newspaper. Then our Dad took us outside to look up at the moon clearly visible above us, and said, "That's where they were, that's where they walked."

It is one of my strongest, clearest memories from my childhood which I have also been able to pass on to my own children. It also awoke in me an awareness of those historic moments that give us all a chance to pause in our daily frenzy to contemplate something larger.
Mo, UK

Although I was only 15 years old in 1969, I was aware that the Moon Landing was a truly historic moment - the first time that human beings had walked on another "world".

It also seemed to me an incredible technological achievement, so I was keen to see the moment when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon.

My family went to bed as usual - how could they not be excited too? - whilst I settled down for a night sleeping on the sofa, with an alarm clock set to wake me at the crucial time.

Telecommunications were much less global then, so the elation of actually watching the moon walk was matched by a sense of awe in knowing that people round the world were doing the same thing at the same time.

At that moment, I realised that, though watching alone in the north east of England, I belonged to the human race.
Kerry, UK

I arrived in the States that same day.

For the landing I was in the bar of my motel watching it on TV.

There were probably 30 people in the bar at the time.

No-one took the slightest notice, didn't even stop playing pool. There must have been a better atmosphere in Trafalgar Square.
David Mudge, Spain

I was only three years old when Apollo XI landed on the Moon.

However, for me, this is my first conscious memory, as I was got out of bed by my father, who told me that this was a historic day, and wanted me to remember it.

To this day, I can remember watching the fuzzy, monochrome images coming from the Lunar surface, and I can recall going outside to see if I could see the astronouts (I was only three after all!).
Jim Toms, UK

I remember the television pictures being so obscure that I decided to sit outside, with the volume on the TV at maximum, watching the moon as Neil Armstrong walked on the lunar surface.

It seemed so incredible, to look up at the moon and realize that you were hearing the voice of some one who was actually there, so far away. And yet everything about you was otherwise so out of the ordinary.
David Davis, USA

I was 9 years old in the summer of 1969, and already a devoted follower and supporter of the US Space Program.

Our family then resided in the American Midwest and on the day of the Moon Landing, folks from far and wide had gathered in downtown Milwaukee to enjoy the Great Annual Circus Parade, a fabulous exhibition of animals, performers and antique circus wagons.

I had with me a small transistor radio, listening intently for the moment when the landing itself would be announced. I leaped from the kerbside when the news broke.

Later that evening we gathered around the television to watch a very grainy, black-and-white image -- I recall the image being upside down -- of the first steps upon the lunar surface by Astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Who says we cannot accomplish that which we put our minds to?
Chris Koceja, USA


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